Monday, November 29, 2010

Curtis Stone's Biggest Loser Vanilla Cupcakes

I am an avid fan of the show, "The Biggest Loser". So, when Curtis Stone featured a low calorie cupcake earlier this season, I had to give it a try. Don't they look so pretty. Almost too cute to eat. The following was take right from "The Biggest Loser" website.

Makes about 14 cupcakes

5 organic egg whites
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the frosting
1 cup nonfat cream cheese
1/2 ripe banana

For raspberry frosting as seen on the show:
1 cup nonfat cream cheese, at room temp
1 cup fresh raspberries
Fresh raspberries to garnish


•Preheat the oven to 325F.
•Place the egg whites in a large bowl and using a handheld mixer whip the whites on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until the whites begin to lighten up and hold their shape.
•Increase speed to high and whip in the salt and honey until the whites hold a soft peak, then add the vanilla extract.
•Fold in the yogurt.
•In a separate medium mixing bowl combine the flour and baking powder and mix well.
•Sift the dry ingredients into the egg whites a little at a time, gently folding them in with a rubber spatula.
•Once fully incorporated, scoop the batter into cupcake tins lined with cupcake papers.
•Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes or until they have colored and gently spring back when pushed with a finger.
•Remove from the oven and cool the cupcakes at room temp.
•Mix the cream cheese and the banana in a medium mixing bowl until well incorporated, leaving small chunks of banana throughout the frosting.
•Once cool, spread a little of the banana frosting over the cupcakes and (top each with a raspberry?) serve.
For raspberry frosting:
•While the cupcakes are baking, puree the raspberries in a blender until smooth.
•Pass through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepot and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until the puree reduces slightly.
•Cool completely.
•Place the cream cheese into a medium mixing bowl and fold the puree into the cream cheese until fully mixed.
•Once cupcakes are cool, spread a little of the berry frosting over the cupcakes, garnish each with one raspberry and serve.
Nutrition Facts:
Calories 60
Total Fat 0g
Sat Fat g 0g
Cholesterol 5mg
Sodium 190mg
Total Carb 10g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugar 4g
Protein 5g

I clearly chose to make the raspberry frosting over the banana frosing. There were a few challenges when make these beauties. Some of my cupcakes did stick to the liners which was unfortunate and made them a little more difficult to consume. The non-fat cream cheese made the frosting lumpy. I ended up using a whisk and beat it to death to get the lumps out. The cupcake itself had a good flavor. I could definitely tell that it was made with the whole wheat flour which I enjoyed. It didn't have much of a vanilla flavor though. The frosting was a bit sour on my first attempt. My husband wouldn't even eat it after his first bite. Between the sour-ish raspberries and the no-fat cream cheese, it just wasn't right. I added about a tablespoon of Truvia to maintain that healthy quality. So, so, so much better. They are definitly not going to get rid of your cravings if you are dying for a sweet treat, but they are certainly a nice, healthy option that can leave you feeling guilt free.

Bake on!

This cookie may change your life...

This is perhaps the best recipe I have every come across for chocolate chip cookies. I have easily exchanged the chocolate chips for m&ms and chocolate chunks with equal success. I couldn't even tell you which is my favorite so I just pick whatever I'm in the mood for.
I have my sister to thank for sharing this recipe with me. She made it for her oldest son's first birthday. So, to me, they are simply known as "Rhett's Birthday Cookies". What makes these so delicious...the secret is in the pudding. Give them a try. I know that you won't be disappointed.

1 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3.5oz instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 bag chocolate chips

Mix butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in vanilla pudding mix. Add baking soda and flour. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy your sweet escape!

Bake on!

I've said it before and I'll say it again...

I love Snickerdoodles. I made these little gems recently. They are always a huge hit. I highly recommend visitings Martha's website and trying these on for yourself.

Bake on!

Divine Chocolate Cake

This divine chocolate cake is perfect for dark chocolate lovers. It is a one layered, rich, fudge cake. This is not your typical spongy cake. It is dense and unexpected. While it isn't one of my favorites, I can certainly see a bunch of little old ladies enjoying this with a cup of decaf in the afternoon. Don't get me wrong... it has a really good flavor. I just was hoping for a spongy cake based on the picture I saw and instead got a dense, fudge cake. I snagged this recipe from

18oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons whipping cream

6 tablespoons corn syrup

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pain. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour paper.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine 10 ounces of the chocolate and the butter. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until melted. Whisk in the vanilla. Cool.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until tripled in volume, about 6 minutes. Gradually add chocolate mixture to egg mixture, stirring gently with a spatula until combined. Pour into the prepared pan.

4. Bake for 45 minutes. Place cake in pan on a wire rack. Using a small sharp knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Press top of cake down to make an even thickness; cool.

5. Remove sides of pan. If necessary, trim edges of cake. Invert cake onto a cake plate; set aside.

6. For glaze, in a medium saucepan, combine whipping cream and corn syrup. Heat over medium heat until mixture begins to simmer; reduce heat to low. Gradually add the remaining 8 ounces chocolate, whisking after each addition until smooth. Cool for 10 minutes. Pour glaze over cake; spread with spatula to completely cover cake. Press almonds onto sides of cake. Shill for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 12-14 servings.

So, enjoy this one with the little old lady in your life...

P.S. I add the dollops of whipping cream and raspberries for overall appeal.

Bake on!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oreo Truffles

I could quite possibly sit down with this little bowl of oreo truffles and pop one after another into my mouth until I'm left holding just the empty bowl. Clearly I've already gotten a start by eating half of one! Mentally told myself that I had to eat one just to show all of you the inside

The best part about these is that it only takes three ingredients! One package of oreos, eight ounces cream cheese, and Baker's white chocolate candy coating (probably will need two boxes). Definitely won't break the pocketbook.

Crush the oreos using a food processor or a blender. Way easier than using a rolling pin or hammer. Mix in the cream cheese until well blended. Form into one inch balls and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for about an hour or until firm.

Now the tricky part, dipping them in the candy coating and trying to get the nice smooth finish! After trying several different kitchen utensils and gadgets, I found a fork to be the best tool. Drop the oreo ball into the white chocolate and cover completely. Fish out the oreo ball with the fork and tap off any excess chocolate. Very carefully slide the truffle off of the fork onto a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes to harden.

It could fun to dress them up a little with a drizzle of chocolate over the top or a sprinkle of crushed oreos. Might have to try this next time!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Santas and Snowmen

Once again, I know, a little early. Just couldn't wait until after Thanksgiving. Today was the second day of Christmas cookie baking with Sarah. We ended up with some super cute cookies, scrumptious truffles, and yummy bark. And best of all, some much needed girl time!

The santa and snowman cookies turned out absolutely adorable! At least I think so! I can't help but to giggle a little when I see them.

Now don't you have to agree that they are cute?!?

The cookie part for both of them is a soft and chewy sugar cookie. So we might have cheated a little. We may have used pre-made sugar cookie dough. But don't judge. We were just more into the decorating part for these and didn't want to waste precious time stirring up some dough.

For the Santas: Frost the top third of the cookie with red frosting. Use a miniature marshmallow for the white pompom. Use a piping bag to pipe on the brim of the hat. Pipe on two small dots for the eyes and one small dot for the nose. Use two chocolate chips for the eyes and one cinnamon red hot for the nose. Frost the bottom third of the cookie with white frosting and stick on coconut for the fluffy beard!

For the Snowmen: These are super easy! They would be a fun project for the kiddos! Frost the cookie and use two chocolate chips for eyes, one candy corn for the carrot nose, and five or six cinnamon red hots for the mouth!

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rich Butterscotch Bars

This is one of my grandma's many wonderful recipes! You know it has to be good when it comes from grandma's recipe box, right? I would die to have a day to just go through her ten recipe boxes and copy all of her mouth watering, super delicious recipes! I definitely have inherited the recipe collecting trait from her!

These were the bars that introduced me to my love of butterscotch! I actually don't know if I had ever really had anything with butterscotch in it before these bars. It was one of those things that I just thought I wouldn't like. I still remember when grandma brought these bars to the kitchen table and told me they were butterscotch. I didn't really want to try one, but knew I had to because I didn't want to hurt her feelings. I was thankful she had cut them into rather small, bite-size pieces. But after I took my first bite I was sure wishing she had cut them a little bit bigger. I had a second and then a third. And was wishing I could have a fourth and a fifth. I probably could have eaten the whole container. Of course my next question was "can I have the recipe please?"

These bars are a little on the rich and sweet side, if there is such a thing. But that didn't stop my co-workers from eating the whole pan in about eight hours!

Rich Butterscotch Bars
10 ounce bag of butterscotch chips
1/2 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup chopped pecans

In a large microwave safe bowl, heat the butterscotch chips and butter until melted, stirring every thirty seconds until smooth. Add the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside 2/3 of a cup for the topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture into greased 13x9 pan.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and egg. Stir in the chopped pecans. Pour over the crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let cool and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Trying to squeeze in every last possible chance to make anything and everything with pumpkin! I am going to be a little sad when Thanksgiving has passed and the "fall baking season" has ended. Definitely love the fall flavors of apple and pumpkin more than the winter flavors of peppermint and gingerbread.

I have been dying to make these cookies but was waiting for the perfect opportunity! And that opportunity finally presented itself today! This recipe makes a fairly large number of cookies and so I needed several places to be able to take them! We all know I have no self control when it comes to sweets so I needed to get them out of the house fast!

Zach's coworkers gave these cookies rave reviews!! He said they were still talking about them three hours later!! Glad to hear they loved them just as much as I do!

I especially love their "cakey" consistency! They are soft, chewy, light, and fluffy! Definitely better than a flat, crisp cookie :)

White chocolate chips are the perfect addition to the usual pumpkin and cream cheese combo. Adding just the right amount of sweetness!

Pumpkin Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
15 ounce can of pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 bag of white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix in white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until edges are firm.

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 tablespoons butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese until well blended. Gradually add powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached. If needed, add small amount of cream or milk to thin frosting.

Enjoying the Sweet Escape!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Turtle Pumpkin Pie

I have said it before and I will say it again, I love pumpkin. So, I like to try recipes that have pumpkin. I have made this desert once before. Both times, it has gone over well with my audience. I have learned a few tricks to it along the way. I will share them throughout this post. Don't be confused by the name of this desert. It doesn't taste like your traditional pumpkin pie with the added traditional "turtle" flavors. It is light and creamy and oh so delicious.

1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp caramel topping, divided
1 Graham pie crust -6oz. Tip #1 buy the next size up. It is too much for the 6oz.
1/2 and 2 Tbsp pecan pieces, divided
1 cup milk
2 pkgs (4-serving size) Jello vanilla instant pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 8oz tub Cool Whip, thawed

Pour 1/4 cup caramel topping into crust. (Tip#2-try whisking in a bit of flour to the caramel to thicken it up. It does like to run otherwise). Sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans.

Beat milk, pudding mixes, pumpkin and spices with whisk until blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cups whipped topping. Spread into crust. Top with remaining Cool Whip.

Refrigerate 1 hr. Top with 2 Tbsp caramel and 2 Tbsp pecan. (Tip #3-actually wait until you are about to serve the desert to top with the remaining caramel and pecan. You will avoid the risk of the caramel running everywhere)

Bake on!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles

I was introduced to these marvelous little treats last year at the first annual cookie exchange! They literally stopped me in my tracks when I took my first bite of them. A year later I still remember my mom's facial expression when I gave her one of them to try. Her eyes got super big and with her mouth still full of truffle she mumbled "We NEED to make these next year for Christmas."

Well this past Saturday when we got our first snowfall and I was trapped inside, what better thing was there to do than spend the day in the kitchen baking! The first thing on the list to make were the ubberly delicious cookie dough truffles!

Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate candy coating (I think Baker's Chocolate works the best)

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour, milk, and vanilla and mix until well combined. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Shape into one inch balls and place on wax-paper lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for one to two hours or until firm.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate candy coating until smooth. Dip balls in coating and place on wax-paper lined baking sheets. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until firm.

Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 5 1/2 dozen delicious truffles!

Now to just wait and see how many of these are actually left by the time Christmas rolls around! I am storing them in the downstairs refrigerator in hopes that I will forget they are down there, obviously I haven't forgotten yet! :)

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thee Best Cake Ever!

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze!!

Oh my god! This cake is by far the best cake we have ever made! It leaves me at a loss of words! Absolutely speechless! Can't even find words to describe to all of you how amazing it is!

I am seriously convinced that sour cream is the ultimate secret ingredient for baking! Every thing that I have made that includes sour cream has turned out absolutely wonderful! They always seem to turn out super moist, light, and fluffy! And this cake lived up to this theory as well!

Michele said it best when she said "it is the perfect marriage of flavors!" Neither the chocolate nor the peanut butter overpower the other. Rather the two compliment one another very well!

The recipe is from Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes. This is the first recipe that we have tried from this book, but being that this one turned out so well, I am super anxious to try some of the other ones!

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms oand sides of two 8-inch cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the oil and sour cream. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Divide batter among the two cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks and carefully peel off the paper liners.

Peanut Butter Frosting
10 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup smooth peanut butter

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a a time. Mix thoroughly after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three to four minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand. Spread about a cup of frosting evenly on the top. Place the other layer on the top and frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting.

I had a difficult time getting the frosting to have a nice smooth finish due to it being slightly sticky. But it worked well to dip the spatula into a bowl of hot water and smooth the frosting.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

In the top of a double broiler, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half.

To decorate the cake, simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least thirty minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely

Well I think we have finally found our ultimate go-to chocolate cake recipe!! What a good feeling that is!!

This has by far been the best sweet escape ever!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Honey and Banana Cupcakes

I found this recipe in a book called "200 Cupcakes". It made about 12 cupcakes which, to me, is perfect when you are trying out a new recipe. I really, really liked this banana cupcake. It actually tasted like a banana cupcake and not a banana muffin. It was soft and cakey like a cupcake. It didn't get that sort of crusty muffin top that muffins get. The frosting I could have done without. I love honey, but it just wasn't the frosting for me. It was more of a honey drizzle or a glaze than it was an actual frosting. Next time I might consider chocolate ganache, PB buttercream or cream cheese frosting as alternatives.

Here's the recipe for the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp lightly salted butter, melted
  • heaping 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 small, very ripe bananas, mashed

1. Line a muffin pan with 12 liners. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl.

2. Mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and mashed bananas in a separate bowl. Tip in the dry ingredients and mix together gently until evenly combined. Divide the cake mixture between the 12 liners.

3. Bake in a preheated over, 325 degrees, for 25 minutes, or until risen and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

4. Frost as desired.

Enjoy! What frosting will you come up with?
Bake on!

More of Michele's Halloween Treats!

Jess and I made plenty of Halloween cupcakes this year. She has already posted some of them that we created together. I made more the next day for my nephews' Halloween party. Here are some featured creations that are a bit different that those that she has already posted.

This walrus cupcake was created on top of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache. I dyed some cream cheese frosting blue to create his face. I pipped on some black eyes. His mouth is made out of a halved peach ring and his teeth are candy coated licorice bites.

This spider and web was created on top of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache. I piped cream cheese frosting to create the web. The spider's body is made out of a milk dud, chocolate licorice and an m&m.

This little blue monster was created on top of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache. I dyed some cream cheese frosting blue to create his face. Mini marshmallows were used to create his eyes and teeth. I quartered the marshmallows for his teeth. I created lips using chocolate licorice.

These cupcakes were inspired by a picture I saw in the Fall/Winter 2010 magazine. I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache. Then I piped on the mummy's wrappings using peanut butter cream cheese frosting. M&ms were used for the eyes.

Justin called this one my "Elmo" cupcake. It is a pumpkin cupcake that is layered with a mini pumpkin cupcake. I used pink dyed cream cheese frosting and gave this little guy a furry look. The orange nose is made out of a gum drop. The eyes are 2 large marshmallows with blue m&ms.

These cupcakes were loved by everyone at the party. I have a picture of 2 of my nephews standing on a chair next to the kitchen counter just staring at all of them. Priceless. I think my brother-in-law ate 3 of them that day. His favorite were the chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache that had cream cheese skeletons piped on them. Of course the kids at the party went crazy for all the monsters that were loaded with lots of delicious frosting. Another attendant of the party said that these were cuter and tasted better than a cupcake shop in the Twin Cities that charges $3-4 per cupcake. Kudos to us.

Bake on!

Michele's Halloween Treats

Peanut Butter Eyeballs
If you love PB... you will love these. Once you start eating them, you can't stop. I snagged this recipe from magazine Fall/Winter 2010. They were a perfect treat for my nephews' Halloween Party.
2 cups crisp rice cereal
2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 cups white baking pieces (15oz)
Red food coloring
Black decorating icing
1. Line a 15x10x1-in baking pan with foil; set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cereal, milk powder, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. using wet hands, shape cereal mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls in prepared pan. Freeze for 1 hour or until firm.
3. Place white baking pieces in a double boiler over hot but not boiling water. Heat and stir until melted. Dip the balls into the melted baking pieces. Let stand until set. Using a small paintbrush and red food coloring, paint veins on coated balls. Using the black decorating frosting, pipe small dots on each ball. Makes about 50 eyeballs.
Bake on!

Race Car Birthday Cake

This is the cake we made for a co-workers son's sixth birthday! He enjoys playing with his hot wheels cars and told his mom he wanted a car themed cake! His main criteria was "no girly colors!" I think we were successful on meeting that criteria!

It is a ten inch yellow cake with our super yummy oreo filling!! For the cake we used the Bakerella recipe for Moist Yellow Cake but made just a few minor changes. The previous times that we baked this cake it was a little dry and didn't have the buttery flavor we were imagining it would. So this time we cut out a half cup of flour and doubled the amount of butter flavoring extract. Definitely glad we made both of these changes!! The end result was so much better!!

Underneath the fondant decorations is a layer of the oh-so-good cream cheese frosting. Thought it would be a good compliment to the oreo filling being that is also cream cheese based.

I absolutely love the checkered border around the bottom of the cake!! It definitely takes the race car theme to a whole new level! We wanted to do a couple checkered flags but figured that would be way to tedious with the itty bitty little squares. So we did it on a bigger scale!! And I think I like it better this way anyways!! The black and white really makes the green, orange, and blue colors pop!

And now for the decorations!! Here is a close up picture of just the fun accessories!

Once again, all of the decorations are made out of marshmallow fondant! Love, love the steering wheel happy birthday sign! A fun little way to tie in the race care theme once again! The race cars were based off of a tutorial we found on Cake Journal. They ended up being super easy to make! And the stripes, lightening bolts, and sixes made them even cuter! Funny how minor little additions can add so much!

Now just to wait and hear what little Brayden's reaction was to the cake!!

Another Sweet Escape!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

White Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

A Pretty Dud
I recently purchased a cupcake cookbook while on a trip to SF. I was excited to try out my first recipe. So, here it is. Or here it isn't. Well, let's just say that I was more than disappointed. The cake batter looked more like cookie dough. The raw dough had a good flavor but when baked it was a dry little cake. It didn't leave me wanting more. It was lifeless and dense. So, not my idea of the perfect cupcake.

The frosting, on the other hand, was a success. It was more of a glaze than a frosting. It was timely to curl all of the individual little white chocolate curls, but so pretty if you have the time. I used my sifter to dust the chocolate with some powdered sugar. Really pretty. Now if only the cupcakes tasted good...

Bake on!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Triple Chocolate Caramel Cookies

A few weeks ago I bought the Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Candies magazine and pretty much bought it just for this recipe! Don't get me wrong, there are numerous recipes that I will probably try someday, but these were placed at the top of the "need to make right now" list.

Sarah and I also made these last Saturday during our christmas cookie baking day! Well, lets just say they weren't as easy as they looked and the recipe made it sound. Several times I thought they were a for sure failure. And several times I was only mere seconds away from throwing the whole batch in the garbage. We would solve one problem along the way and then another one would arise. These little buggers gave us quit the battle.

Sure glad we stuck with them to the end though! They ended up turning out beautifully and one would never think we had so many issues! And the best part is...they tasted oh so good! Definitely worth all of the frustrations along the way!

Here is the recipe with our changes and recommendations!

Triple Chocolate Caramel Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 pkg (12 ounces) miniature chocolate chips
1 bottle caramel ice cream topping (we would recommend using the kind in the jar and not the squeeze bottle. The jar kind is thicker and won't cause a sticky, runny mess)
4 to 6 ounces dark chocolate candy coating, melted

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine flour and cocoa and gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Roll into one inch balls. Place two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Use your thumb to create a 1/2 inch indentation in the center of each ball. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. After you remove the cookies from the oven be sure to fix any cracks in the cookies that could cause the caramel to leak out of the middle.

Let the cookies cool completely and then fill the center of each cookie with caramel topping. Finish by drizzling the cookies with the melted chocolate candy coating.

Hope you enjoy the sweet escape!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispie Treats = Pure Heaven

Last night I went to see Kari and Holly's super cute new condo and of course had to bring them a little housewarming treat! I went on the food blog hunt for a delicious recipe and boy did I find a good one! I was browsing on Brown Eyed Baker and under "the most emailed" category in the number three spot was peanut butter cup rice krispie treats. I knew I was going to love these just by the name alone! I clicked on the link and BAM suddenly there was this utterly amazing picture staring me in the face.

I love rice krispie bars. I love peanut butter. And I love chocolate. Put all three of these together and it was like walking through the gates to heaven!

It was absolutely hilarious listening to the moans and comments as five girls inhaled the bars. All I heard from the girls between bites was "I am definitely having seconds," "O-M-G," and "I could seriously sit and eat the whole pan."

Hopefully I have you all convinced by now that you need to make these bars in the near future! Everyone that eats them will love you forever!

Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispie Bars

6 cups Rice Krispies
1 bag (10.5-oz) miniature marshmallows
¼ cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 bag (12-oz) miniature peanut butter cups (about 40), quartered
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or 6 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped)

1. Butter a 9×13-inch pan and set aside.

2. Measure the cereal into a large mixing bowl and set aside. Melt the marshmallows and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the cereal and mix well so the cereal is coated. Pour into the prepared pan and use a buttered piece of wax paper to press evenly into pan.

3. In the microwave, melt the peanut butter until thin, about 1 minute. Gently stir in the quartered peanut butter cups and then pour over the treats. Using the back of a spoon, gently spread the peanut butter mixture evenly across the top.

4. Again in the microwave, melt the chocolate chips. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate across the top. Place the pan in the refrigerator to set before cutting and serving. Store in an airtight container.

This was one heck of a Sweet Escape!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween Cookie Pizza

So I didn't make this one. The only thing I assisted with was the sprinkling of a few chocolate and peanut butter chips. But I did get verbal permission from Sarah to include it on the blog! It was just too fricken cute and yummy to not share this with all of you!

one roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
candy corn, pumpkins, M&Ms, peanuts, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips
1/4 cup vanilla ready-to-spread frosting

Heat over to 350 degrees. Line 12 inch pizza pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Cut cookie dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange on pan. With floured fingers, press slices to form a crust. Bake 15-20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let cool completely.

Using foil lining, carefully lift crust and place on serving platter. Spread peanut butter evenly over crust. Sprinkle with candy corn, pumpkins, peanuts, M&Ms, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips.

Heat frosting in microwave until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle icing over cookie pizza. Cut into wedges or squares and enjoy!

This is also from the Pillsbury Best Cookies Cookbook! They also included different cookie pizza variations for Christmas and Easter! Stay tuned for these to be coming soon!!

Enjoy your Sweet Escape!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

S'more Thumbprint Cookies

I know it is only the beginning of November, but today marked the start of the Christmas Cookie baking!! I absolutely love this time of year!! My good friend Sarah and I started the annual tradition of Christmas Cookie baking when we were roommates our junior year of college. Wow, I can't believe that was already five years ago. And I think every year the cookies get better and better. We very rarely make the same recipe two years in a row so the big question is always "what kinds should we make this year?" And then we each go on the hunt for a couple fun and unique recipes.

This year Sarah bought Pillsbury's Best Cookies Cookbook and there are multiple recipes that I am dying to try in the near future! I think I might even have to make a trip to Border's Books to buy this cookbook for myself! The picture of the s'more thumbprint on the cover caught my eye when she showed me the book and apparently it sucked her in too because it was her "pick" for our baking today! And they are definitely unlike anything we had ever made in the past!

I think I could have eaten about a dozen of these cookies in one sitting! Not sure if I have enough self-control to stay out of the freezer and not eat all of them before Christmas even gets here. Might have been a mistake to make these so far in advance!

S'more Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup finely crushed or ground graham cracker crumbs
1/8 tsp salt
About 2 cup miniature marshmallows
About 120 rectangles milk chocolate candy

Preheat over to 325 degrees. In large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. On low speed, add flour, cracker crumbs, and salt. Beat for about one minute or until still dough forms.

Shape dough into one inch balls. Place about two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With thumb, make indentation in center of each.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Lightly press 3 marshmallows in center of each cookie. Bake two to three minutes longer.

Top marshmallows on each cookie with two rectangles of chocolate. Let stand two to three minutes. With tip of knife, gently spread chocolate over marshmallows. Let stand until chocolate is set.

Another Sweet Escape!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fudgy, Chewy, Cakey Brownies!

Yesterday I just had the itch to make something. Anything. Wasn't really in the mood to go through the many steps of making cupcakes. Wanted to do something a little more quick and simple. I was browsing through the recipe index of one my absolute most favorite blogs, My Baking Addiction and I was drawn to the "Bar Cookies" header. There were many recipes that made my mouth water a little, but one in particular that caught my eye! Anytime a recipe or blog post has the words best, perfect, or amazing I am sucked right in. I clicked on the link for "Amazing Brownies" and after seeing the picture and reading the blog post I grabbed my computer and headed straight for the kitchen!

The recipe is actually from the cookbook "The Perfect Recipe: Getting it Right Every Time" by Pam Anderson. In the cookbook Pam wrote "There are three different brownie camps- those who like them chewy and gooey, those who prefer them dense and fudgy, and a third crowd who like them frosty and cakey. I gave myself the seemingly impossible task of trying to please everyone. I had marching orders: to develop an intense, rich, chocolately brownie, with just enough structure and definition."

These brownies started to win my love before I even tasted the first morsel. The intense chocolate smell they filled the house with was amazing. Then the hope was that the brownies were actually as chocolately tasting as the strong aroma! And in fact they were! They were rich and decadent with an amazing fudgy, chocolately flavor!

Not that they weren't perfect already, but I think there is some room for a little playing and adapting with this recipe! I think the next time I will try them with either chocolate chunks, nuts, and swirled caramel! All I know is, I will definitely be making these again real soon!!

Amazing Brownies

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
veg cooking spray
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Fit a sheet of foil in pan and up two sides, so you can use it as a handle to pull cooked brownies from pan (I used parchment paper). Spray sheet with cooking spray.

Melt chocolates and butter in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Continue to whisk until mixture is completely smooth and glossy. Add dry ingredients, whisk until just incorporated. Stir in nuts, if using.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out with wet crumbs, 35-45 minutes.

Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Use handles to pull brownies from pan. Completely cool brownies on rack, at least three hours. Cut into squares and serve. If not serving immediately, do not cut brownies. Whole brownie cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil, and refrigerated for up to five days.

An amazingly sweet escape!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes

This past Saturday was the Second Annual Millard Monster Mash and of course this called for some fun and festive cupcakes! We had a pile of assorted candy and just let the creative juices take over.

"Three Eyed Furry Monster"
This was our first attempt at two-tone frosting! The eyes are dots and the teeth are slivered almonds! He is definitely one of my favorite monsters!

These pumpkins were a little classier than the other cupcakes :) But they were the favorite for the guests that love frosting! Got this idea from "Hello, Cupcake!" A mound of frosting rolled in orange sprinkles and a piece of green apple twizzlers for the stem!

Super cute and easy mummies! Criss-crossed lines using a rose petal tip and M&M eyes!

Bloodshot Eyeball Cupcakes! The center is a flattened dot candy with piped black icing in the middle.

The two one-eyed monsters! The one on the left is a furry little guy that was made with the two-tone frosting and a grass pastry tip. His eye is a peach candy ring with an M&M center. The monster on the right used laffy taffy for the tentacles and milkdud-M&M eye.

I absolutely love these little skeleton guys! A mini marshmallow for the head and #3 pastry tip to pipe on the body.

Three Eyed Alien! The orange is melted candy melts poured over a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. The eyes are flattened dots with shimmery blue gel.

I can't help but to laugh a little when I see this little monster. The back part of his head
was built up using a large marshmallow under the frosting. The eyes are gummy
lifesavers with runts stuck in the holes. And the teeth are slivered almonds!

I already can't wait for halloween next year! But we have a whole year to dream up some more fun monsters!!